Weight Loss Challenge: Setting Weight Loss Goals

Do you know how to set a good goal?  One you can stick to and achieve?

Many people are struggling to lose weight, because they don’t know how to carry out their plans even when they have the best intentions to do so.

MyGoal #007 illustration - finishOne of the best ways to lose weight and achieve your goals is to write them down.  Make them concrete.  This can move you from wishful thinking to tangible results!

There are two types of goals.  Outcome goals and process goals.   Both are equally important.  An outcome goal might be to lose 50 pounds, while a process goal could be to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  The outcome goal gives you an end point, while the process goal is a step along the way.  Process goals are your roadmap to success.

Goals work best when they are specific, measurable, attainable, and time sensitive.  For instance, a goal of walking three times a week for 30 minutes trumps a goal of saying you want to exercise more.

Before you begin, it’s important to note where you’re starting from.  Weigh yourself at the beginning of your journey, so you can see how far you’ve come by the end.  How often you choose to weigh yourself along the way is up to your own individual preference.  Some people are discouraged by having to step on the scale too often, while others like the consistent feedback and reinforcement.  Whatever the case, I recommend having an additional way to track your progress along the way too, for those times when you may not reach your intended weight loss goals.  This can help offset frustration.

Here are some steps to follow in setting your weight loss goals:

MyGoal #007 illustration - notepad

  1. Decide on your end destination.  What excites you?  Goals that have a strong emotional connection are more likely to succeed.  Pick a date and a goal.
  2. Choose 2-3 process goals.  People who have been successful in losing and managing their weight often have 2-3 manageable goals they’re working toward.
  3. Challenge yourself and dream big, but don’t set yourself up for failure by biting off more than you can chew.
  4. Manage your expectations, and be patient with yourself.  Be careful to not expect too much too soon.
  5. Choose an accountability partner and re-evaluate your progress on a consistent basis.  Have a concrete system in place to measure progress.
  6. Reward yourself at important milestones along the way instead of waiting for a big reward at the end.  This can keep you stay focused, inspired and moving forward with confidence.

Let’s take a look at a specific weight loss challenge.  Let’s say you want to fit into a brand new dress for your wedding or your son’s wedding in 6 months.  You figure you need to lose 25 pounds.  This is an outcome goal, and it fits with the recommendation to lose 1-2 pounds/week.  For process goals, let’s choose one related to exercise, one related to nutrition, and one related to behavioral modification.

An exercise process goal looks like this:

Walk 30 minutes 3 times/week on my lunch hour at work.  (Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays).

A nutrition process goal looks like this:

Cut down on eating fast food from 3 times/week to 1x/week.

A behavioral modification process goal looks like this:

Put my exercise bag and walking shoes by the front door the nights before my walking days 3x/week.

As always, remember to call on support to help you.  Please share your outcome goals and process goals below for added support!


Latham, Gary P.; Locke, Edwin A. (2007).  New Developments in and Direction for Goal-Setting Research.  European Psychologist, 12(4), 290-300.